Japan’s government said on Wednesday it would investigate messaging app Line, owned by SoftBank Corp’s Z Holdings Corp, after Japanese media reports that it let Chinese engineers at a Shanghai affiliate access Japanese users’ data without informing them.
Under Japanese privacy regulations, companies have to let users know when their personal data is sent overseas, public broadcaster pubic broadcaster NHK and other local media reported earlier.
“We can’t say yet if Line breached regulations or not, and we are conducting an investigation to find out,” a government official responsible for overseeing privacy regulations told Reuters. If Line is found to have acted improperly then the Cabinet Office can direct it to make improvements, he added.
“There hasn’t been anything that breached legal or regulatory boundaries,” a spokesman for Line said.” We will continue to respond to laws and regulations in all jurisdictions, including Japan.”
In a statement posted later on its website, the company apologized for causing any concern and for not adequately explaining policies regarding data management to users. No inappropriate access occurred, it added.
Four engineers at a company in China, who perform system maintenance for Line, were allowed to access servers in Japan from 2018 that contained the names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of users, local media said.
The reports come as Japan tightens laws and regulation around the use and storage of personal data held by internet companies.
Line, which has 186 million users worldwide – of which just under half are in Japan – has since blocked access to user data at the Chinese affiliate, the company spokesman said.
Line this month became part of Z Holdings, formerly Yahoo Japan, creating a $30 billion domestic internet heavyweight to compete against local and U.S. rivals.
Messages sent via Line can only be read by the sender and receiver as the app, like other messaging apps, encrypts message content end to end.
Z Holdings is controlled by SoftBank Corp through holding company A Holdings, which is jointly owned by SoftBank Corp and South Korea’s Naver Corp, the former operator of Line.
Z Holdings, which plans to invest 500 billion yen ($4.58 billion) in technology over the next five years, announced the Line tie-up last year but was forced to delay the move from October because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Line has expanded its business into cashless payment and more recently telemedicine.
Shares of Z Holdings, which also controls fashion retailer Zozo Inc and office supplies firm Askul Corp, dipped 1.1% to 611 yen, compared with the Tokyo exchange’s TOPIX index which was flat.
Nokia and African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to Speed up Digital Transformation and the Knowledge Economy in Africa
Collaboration to leverage the power of ICT including 5G for Industry 4.0 (IR 4.0), connecting the unconnected and transforming lives; Both organizations reiterate commitment to shape policy, develop talent, and promote inclusion and diversity in Africa.
Nokia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to drive digital transformation and the knowledge economy for socio-economic development across the continent. The two parties will leverage the power of telecommunications, including 5G networks, to connect the unconnected and identify innovative use cases, as well as business models. In addition, the MoU will lay ground for both organizations to better help governments shape telecom policy, develop talent and promote inclusion and diversity. This includes women, as well as the underprivileged in both rural and urban areas.
The MoU was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, by John OMO, Secretary General at ATU and Rajiv Aggarwal, Nokia Representative and Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia.
Announcing the partnership, Rajiv Aggarwal, Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, said: “We remain keen on supporting Africa’s digital transformation journey and by collaborating with the ATU, we strengthen this commitment. We will leverage our global technology expertise and insights on policy matters to positively impact the universal socio-economic development in the continent.”
Co-signing the MoU with Mr. Rajiv, John OMO, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said: “Our vision is to make Africa a full and active participant in the global information and knowledge society by enabling universal access to ICT systems and services across Africa. Collaboration with a global industry leader such as Nokia is therefore crucial in this regard and will help us accelerate towards a digital transformation and knowledge economy.”
The MoU framework is guided by six tenets designed to facilitate this acceleration. These are:
- Sharing of best practices on telecom technology trends and developments
- Identification of innovative industrial use cases toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- Recommendation on implementation of emerging technologies and business models
- Promotion of connecting the unconnected with broadband
- Development of emerging talent for digital innovation
- Promotion of inclusion and diversity
Nokia has a long history of collaboration with international organizations and bodies across the globe. Regionally in MEA, Nokia recently partnered with UN Women to promote inclusion and diversity in Middle East and Africa. Nokia is also working with UNICEF as part of a shared-value partnership in Kenya to connect schools with broadband and empower children in rural as well as disadvantaged urban areas. In November 2020, Nokia supported the Forge Academy in South-Africa with the launch of a fully inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to help students to become entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy.
RobinHood, WeBull, Others Trading Apps Hit 14 Million Users Globally, Twice More than a Year Ago
Over the past years, trading apps have revolutionized the way people interact with the world’s financial markets and stock exchanges, making it simple and easy to trade online, whether at home or on the go. The number of people using these apps to make investments and monitor market trends has grown constantly each year, but in 2021 it surged to all-time highs.
According to data presented by BuyShares, RobinHood, WeBull, Fidelity Investments, E*Trade and eToro, as the world’s top five trading apps, doubled the number of users in the last year to nearly 14 million as of July.
RobinHood Hit 7.3M Monthly Active Users, Double the Second-Ranked WeBull
Stock trading has been moving to mobile for quite a while, and tech companies have been working on well-designed trading platforms to provide top-notch service to a new, tech-savvy set of users. That shift first started in the United States, where Robinhood has attracted tens of millions of users. On the other hand, the European market is still fragmented, with a handful of stock-trading apps slowly expanding to new markets.
According to AirNow data, RobinHood is by far the most popular trading app in the world. In July 2020, the app had around 4.3 million monthly active users. However, user numbers spiked in the first half of 2021, reaching a peak of over 9 million in May 2021. In July, around 7.3 million people worldwide used RobinHood to trade and make investments, 70% more than in the same month a year ago.
With 2.7 million monthly active users, or twice less than the leading RobinHood, WeBull ranked as the second most popular trading app globally. However, statistics show WeBull witnessed the biggest growth, with the number of users surging by 265% year-over-year.
Fidelity Investments ranked third with 1.8 million active users, 38% more than in July 2020. Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade and eToro followed, with 1.1 million and 1 million monthly active users, respectively.
RobinHood Reached 11.9M Downloads in 2021, Close to Other Top Four Apps Combined
Stock trading app developers are constantly innovating and adding new features to make portfolio management easier to do on the go. For example, many of the latest-gen trading platforms now feature AI-based tools to help users evaluate investment risks.
Besides having the largest user base, RobinHood also witnessed the biggest number of downloads this year. In the seven months of 2021, the trading app was downloaded 11.6 million times, close to the other top four apps combined, with almost one-third of all downloads happening in January.
WeBull was downloaded 5.6 million times in this period, 2.3 million more than the third-ranked eToro. Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade round the top five list, with 1.9 million and 1.2 million downloads, respectively.
Broadband Penetration in Need of a Leg-up – Coronation Merchant Bank
Digital technologies can promote growth in an economy partly due to their capacity to reduce costs and improve the quality of delivery. However, to achieve this, highspeed and reliable internet and broadband are required. The latest data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 139.4 million in July, representing a y/y decline of -5%. Furthermore, we noticed a m/m decline of c.431,000 in subscriptions.
The decline in subscriptions can be partly attributed to the temporary suspension of SIM card sales to ensure the achievement of the National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise. Additionally, based on our channel checks, the stress associated with the NIN-SIM linkage has resulted in customers abandoning SIMs of devices that are not their primary source for communication or internet connectivity.
MTN Nigeria (MTNN) accounted for the largest share (42%) of total subscriptions though down -1.0% m/m in July ‘21. Airtel (-0.5%) and Glo (-0.9%) also recorded m/m decreases.
Over the past year, there has been a visible shift to fibre broadband internet plans which do not necessarily need SIM cards to function. We note that some residential estates are increasingly using this service given the heavy reliance on internet services at home due to the newly adopted work-from-home approach.
In November ‘19, President Buhari launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy. The strategy is hinged on eight critical pillars. One of the critical pillars is developing a solid infrastructure by deploying fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure to deepen broadband penetration and drive an inclusive and vibrant digital economy.
Similarly, in September ‘21, the FGN approved the national policy for the fifth-generation (5G) network to boost the country’s digital economy. The national broadband plan set a target for the country to attain 70% broadband penetration at a price of N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 1.3% of minimum wage).
The latest national accounts show that Information and Communications Technology sector grew by 5.6% y/y and contributed 17.9% to the total GDP in Q2 ’21. This is slightly higher than its contributions in Q2 ’20 (17.8%) and Q1 ’21 (14.9%). It also showed that telecommunications grew by 5.9% y/y in Q2 ‘21 compared with 7.7% in Q1 ‘21 and 18.1% in Q2 ‘20.
We note that investments into the sector have declined steadily. Capital importation into the telecommunications sector declined by 138.2% from USD944.1m in ’14 to USD417.5m in ’20. This can be linked to the infrastructure deficit in the telecommunications sector, the high cost of services and access devices, low digital literacy, poor perception of broadband value, among others.
Clear policy and regulatory guidance are fundamental to the optimal distribution and uptake of broadband services. The evolving work conditions, travel restrictions due to covid-19, the rise of e-commerce, and integration of technology in daily activities show that the rollout of broadband services has the potential to address various socio-economic challenges, grow the economy and create jobs.
Industry sources suggest that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can increase the GDP of an economy by 1.8 – 2.0%
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